Rent Choco’s boat and support mental health programs

Enjoy the Southern California weather on Choco’s custom boat and support CHOC’s mental health programs at the same time. A portion of every rental will support these programs, and a generous donor is making waves with a $50,000 matching gift.


For rental information, please visit the Lido Marina Village Electric Boat Rental website at to get started and select “Book Now.” Be sure to select the CHOC boat.

You can also sponsor a ride on the boat for a CHOC family dealing with a serious illness or injury. Two-hour vouchers/gift certificates can be purchased at the rental office or online at For a tax-deductible gift, make your gift via check or online donation to CHOC Foundation and designate it towards “CHOC Boat Ride.”

Stay Informed about Mental Health

CHOC Children’s has made the commitment to take a leadership role in meeting the need for more mental health services in Orange County. Sign up today to keep informed about this important initiative.

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6 major types of anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a normal human emotion and is part of life. Anxiety is only considered a disorder if it causes significant distress and/or keeps a person from keeping up with at least one part their life, including school, work, relationships, responsibilities or enjoyable activities. Anxiety disorders often persist over time and generally do not go away on their own. When anxiety disorders are left untreated, many people develop depression because of the toll that the anxiety has taken on their life. Anxiety is treatable by a mental health professional with short-term therapy if there are no other challenges or concerns.

We spoke to several pediatric psychologists at CHOC Children’s for an overview on the six major types of anxiety disorders.

 Phobias are intense fears of specific animals, objects or situations. This would include a fear of dogs, spiders, heights, blood draws, the dentist, or anything else. A person with a phobia either goes out of their way to avoid the feared objected or situation, or they face it, but they experience extreme distress. The fear has to last at least six months before it is considered a phobia. Children with age-appropriate fears are not the same as phobias; e.g., a 3-year-old who is afraid of the dark.

 Generalized anxiety is when someone worries about a range of different topics, which may include school or job performance, finances, world events, natural disasters, relationships with others, and other topics. These worries are hard to control and keep popping up, making it hard for people to focus on their activities. Worries happen often and intensely enough that they make it difficult to concentrate and may cause or worsen headaches, stomach aches, muscle tension, and irritability.

 Panic disorder is when someone experiences panic attacks that get in the way of their life in some way. Panic attacks can include any combination of sensations, including racing heart, rapid breathing, chest pain, dizziness, nausea or abdominal pain, blurred vision, sweating, shaking, feelings of doom, feeling like the world isn’t real (as though you are in a dream or a movie), or experiencing the moment as though you are outside of yourself. The person may also experience fear of losing control, or fear of dying or going crazy. Panic attacks can be triggered by something specific, or they can occur seemingly out of the blue. They usually reach their peak intensity within 15 minutes. It is important to note that someone can have panic attacks without having panic disorder. When someone has panic disorder, they either avoid situations that they think will cause a panic attack (such as going to the mall, going to the movie theater, or driving), or they experience ongoing worry that they will experience another attack. In the case of panic disorder, panic attacks should not be better explained by a specific phobia or by social anxiety.

 Social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia) is a persistent fear of being judged or evaluated by others, accompanied by intense discomfort interacting with others. Someone may be intensely afraid of saying the wrong thing or feeling stupid or embarrassed. This anxiety can happen in just one specific situation, such as giving presentations at school, or in many situations wherein a child is very uncomfortable interacting with peers and adults. As a result, the person with anxiety may avoid interacting with others but still feel comfortable with close friends and family. The person with anxiety may also request that others speak for them, such as ordering food for them at a restaurant. There is a difference between shyness and social anxiety disorder. Shyness involves some minor discomfort interacting with people in certain situations, whereas social anxiety disorder actually gets in the way of the individual’s functioning at home, school, work or in their social circle. Occasional, fleeting discomfort in social situations is not necessarily an indicator of social anxiety disorder.

 Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) used to be grouped with anxiety disorders, but now they are classified under their own category because they have unique causes, unique brain structures involved, and unique treatments that make them separate from anxiety disorders.

Separation anxiety disorder is when someone has persistent and excessive worry about being separated from or losing a caregiver or attachment figure. Separation anxiety can be a normal part of a child’s early development, but when the anxiety becomes excessive it can impair their development. Separation anxiety generates thoughts about what will happen to their caregiver when they are separated, such as whether the caregiver die or become ill. The individual also worries about what would happen to themselves if they are separated from their caregiver, such as will they get hurt or will something bad happen to them. Due to this heightened level of anxiety, the person can come across as “clingy” toward their caregiver and have difficulty leaving their side to go to school, be home alone, or go to sleep by themselves. Often, separation anxiety can occur after a stressor or loss. For example, for a young child after the loss of a pet, or for a young adult when they move out of their parent’s home for the first time.

The important thing to remember is that anxiety is both common and treatable. If your child is experiencing anxiety that is getting in the way of their activities or responsibilities (like school or chores), medical care, or relationships with others, consider reaching out to their primary care physician or a mental health provider about available treatment options.

Stay Informed about Mental Health

CHOC Children’s has made the commitment to take a leadership role in meeting the need for more mental health services in Orange County. Sign up today to keep informed about this important initiative and to receive tips and education from mental health experts.

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What to do if my child is suicidal: 8 tips for parents

A serious public health problem, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in children and adolescents.

And while suicide and depression are interwoven, other triggers of suicidal thoughts and actions can include a romantic relationship breakup, failing in school, being bullied, or experiencing abuse, loss or other trauma.

Here’s what parents need to know about suicide prevention:

1. Know the warning signs

  • Pay attention to children talking about wanting to die or kill themselves, feeling hopeless, having no reason to live, or being a being a burden to others.
  • Suicide notes are a very real sign of danger and should always be taken seriously. These notes may be in the form of letters, emails, social media posts or text messages.
  • If someone has attempted suicide in the past, they are more likely to try again.
  • Watch for children making final arrangements like saying goodbye to friends; giving away prized possessions; or deleting social media profiles, pictures or posts.
  • Making sudden dramatic changes can be a sign too. Watch out for teens withdrawing from friends and family; skipping school or classes; becoming less involved in activities that were once important; avoiding others; having trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time; suddenly losing or gaining weight; or showing a disinterest in appearance or hygiene.
  • A suicidal child or adolescent may show an increased interest in guns and other weapons, may seem to have increased access to guns or pills, or may talk about or hint at a suicide plan.
  • Sudden risky behaviors can indicate suicidal thoughts. Watch for increased use of alcohol or drugs, showing rage or talking about seeking revenge. Self-injury is also a warning sign for young children and teenagers.

2. If you have any suspicion, ask your child if they are thinking about killing themselves. This will not put the idea into their head or make them more likely to attempt suicide.

3. Listen to your child without judgement and let them know you care.

4. Help your child stay engaged in their usual coping activities life family activities and sports.

5. If your child is in danger, stay with them or ensure they are in a private, secure place with another caring person until you can get further help.

6. Remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt like medications, guns, sharp knives, ropes or cords, or cleaning products.

7. If danger of self-harm or suicide is mounting, call 911.

8. Know your resources.

  • Find a therapist by calling CalOptima Behavioral Health at 855-877-3885 or checking with your insurance provider on its website or phone number printed on the back of your card.
  • Here are other ways to get help for a child having suicidal thoughts: Call the MHSA Suicide Prevention Line at 877-727-4747 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Text CONNECT to 741741. Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Download the Let's Talk Guide and start a conversation about mental health

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What to do if you feel suicidal

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in children
and adolescents – but it doesn’t have to be.

If you are considering suicide or self-harm, pausing to take these 5 steps can save your life:

1. Get help!

You need to seek help immediately if you can’t see any
solution to your bad feelings besides harming or killing yourself or others. If
talking to a stranger seems easier for you, call 1-800-273-TALK or text
“CONNECT” to 741741.

2. Know that there is always another solution – even if you can’t see it right now.

Remember that these emotions will pass, no matter how awful
you feel now. Many people who have attempted suicide and survived say that they
tried it because they felt there was no other solution or way to end their

3. Remember that having thoughts of hurting yourself or others does not make you a bad person.

Depression can make you think and feel things that do not
reflect your true character. These are reflections of how much you are hurting.

4. If your feelings are overwhelming, tell yourself to wait 24 hours before taking any action.

This can give you time to really think things through and
see if those strong feelings get a tiny bit easier to handle. During this
24-hour period, talk to anyone who isn’t also feeling suicidal or depressed. Call
a hotline or talk to a friend or trusted adult. Remember there are likely
several solutions to your problem.

5. If you’re afraid you can’t stop yourself, make sure you are never alone.

Even if you can’t talk about your feelings, stay in public
places, hang out with friends or family members, or go to a movie — anything to
keep from being by yourself and in danger.

Download the Let's Talk Guide and start a conversation about mental health

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What to do if your friend is suicidal

Suicide rarely happens without warning, and you might be in the best position to notice and assist a friend who needs help. Because suicide rarely happens without warning, you may see signs yourself, hear about them secondhand, or see something online in social media. Here are three key things you can do to help a friend who is suicidal:                

1. Do not be afraid to talk to your friend.

Listen to their feelings. Make sure they know how important
they are to you. But, don’t believe you can keep them from hurting themselves
on your own. Preventing suicide will require help from adults.

2.Don’t keep this secret.

Never keep secret a friend’s suicidal plans or thoughts. You
need to speak up to save your friend’s life, even if they ask you to promise
not to tell.

3.Tell an adult.

Don’t wait to talk to your parent, your friend’s parent, your school’s psychologist or counselor, or any other trusted adult. Don’t be afraid that grown-ups won’t believe you or take you seriously. Talk to someone even if you are unsure your friend is suicidal. This is definitely the time to be safe and not sorry!

Download the Let's Talk Guide and start a conversation about mental health

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